US 7724144 B2
The present invention includes an apparatus for inserting a radio frequency device into a label. A ribbon of labels has a plurality of labels and a cavity formed in each of the labels. A mechanism linearly advances the ribbon of labels. A device inserts at least one radio frequency device into the cavity of a respective label. An upper layer of the ribbon of labels is slit along the channel to form an opening along a top of each of the cavities and at least one RFID device, such as a tag or coin is inserted within at least one of the plurality of cavities. A label for removably holding the RFID device includes an upper and lower layer of material. The cavity is formed between the upper and lower layers. An area of interference is located at a top of the cavity for holding the RFID device within the cavity.
1. An apparatus for inserting a radio frequency device into a label comprising:
a ribbon of labels having a plurality of labels and a cavity formed in each of the labels, each cavity having an interference point located therein;
a mechanism for linear advance of the ribbon of labels; and
a device for inserting at least one radio frequency device into the cavity of a label past the interference point to removably secure the radio frequency device within the cavity,
wherein the ribbon of labels includes a the plurality of labels having a woven cavity disposed on both sides of a channel, and further comprising a first slitting device for slitting an upper layer of the ribbon of labels along the channel to form an opening along a top of each of the cavities.
2. The apparatus of
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12. A label for removably securing a radio frequency device, the label comprising:
an upper and lower layer of woven material;
a woven cavity formed between said upper and lower layers; and
an interference point located at a top of the woven cavity to removably secure the radio frequency device within the cavity.
13. The label of
14. The label of
15. The label of
16. The label of
17. A method for forming a plurality of labels incorporating a radio frequency device comprising the steps of:
providing a ribbon of labels, the ribbon of labels including a plurality of labels having a woven cavity disposed on both sides of a channel;
slitting an upper layer of the ribbon of labels along the channel to form an opening along a top of each of the cavities, each cavity having an interference point located therein; and
inserting at least one radio frequency device into at least one of the plurality of cavities past the interference point to removably secure the device within the at least one cavity.
18. The method of
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This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/640,610 filed Dec. 30, 2004. This application is also related to co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/329,778 entitled “Method for Identifying Apparel Items and Other Goods” and Ser. No. 10/143,842 entitled “Method and Apparatus for Production of RF Labels.”
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a label having a cavity for receiving a circular or coin sized RFID device, and more particularly, to an apparatus and method of inserting the RFID device into the label cavity in a free floating fashion.
2. Description of the Related Art
The attachment of labels to cloth goods such as clothing, linens and towels is a common practice used to set forth information such as trademarks and trade names, material identification and characteristics, sizes, care instructions, and so forth. In addition, legal requirements necessitate the use of labels in clothing or on linens. A method and apparatus for producing individual folded labels from a ribbon of labels is presented in published PCT application WO 00/50239 and is incorporated in its entirety herein.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,827,817, incorporated in its entirety herein, discloses a folded label having radio frequency identification device (RFID) disposed therein. RFID tags typically consist of an antenna or a coil, to collect RF energy, and an integrated circuit (IC) which contains identification code or other information in its on-chip memory. The RFID device stores and transmits identifying information, such as inventory control, pricing control and the tracking of the origin of the merchandise.
Commercially available RFID tags generally operate at low frequencies, typically below 1 MHz. Many 13.56 and 915 MHz tags are currently commercially available in the market today. 915 Mhz tags are commercially available due to the current mandates by large retailers and the DOD requiring 915 Mhz tags on case goods for their larger suppliers. Although lower frequency devices are more common, a wide range of high frequencies are available, for example, 13.56 MHz, 915 MHz, 2.45 GHz and 5.6 GHz. Low frequency tags usually employ a multi-turn coil resulting in a tag having a thickness much greater than a standard sheet of paper. 2.45 GHz and 5.6 GHz can be done in a single turn or as a die pole antenna. High frequency passive RFID tags, which operate at around 2.54 GHz, typically consist of a single turn, flat antenna, printed onto a flat single layer sheet of plastic or paper.
The numerous different sized RFID tags can also take different shapes. The coin shaped tags can be a RFID tag encased in durable packaging. This packaging provides the tag with protection from a hostile environment that may other wise damage or destroy the tag. Environments such as heat, steam, chemicals, water and other acute demands. Due to the longevity this packaging provides such an RFID tag has the capability to survive many product life cycles.
A RFID tag embedded in a woven label is easily sewn onto a garment. This garment may be used at a garment rental facility or commercial laundry facility. After 40-50 wash cycles the garments quality and integrity is somewhat damaged from the environment it has been exposed to, however, the RFID tag embedded in the woven label is not effected. By embedding the RFID tag into the woven label, with out any permanent means such as adhesives or other attachment method that will combine the RFID tag and the woven carrier, the RFID tag can be removed without any damage or residue that could effect reprocessing of that RFID tag into another label. Thus, an RFID tag that is attachable without the use of adhesive, easily removed and reused by attaching it to another item or garment is also desirable.
As fully disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/143,842, commonly owned by the assignee of the present invention and incorporated in its entirety herein, a ribbon of labels with RF devices encapsulated therein can be subdivided into individual RF labels using ultrasonic means resulting in individual folded RF labels that are both soft to the touch, i.e., having edges that are generally scratchless to the apparel consumer, and capable of storing and transmitting identifying information and at the same time virtually free of defects.
It would be desirable to be able to produce labels incorporated with RF devices for storing and transmitting identifying information and that are more comfortable to the apparel customer than current labels. In addition, it is desirable to produce such labels at a higher speed and at a greater efficiency of production for both label and end product manufacturers, and with fewer defects than current methods.
Apparel items and other goods have certain identifying specifications that can be broken down into different factors and these factors contain certain options. Therefore, for example, apparel items are sorted at distribution centers by several factors, i.e., style, color, size, authenticity, date of manufacture, shipping instructions, contractor, etc. These factors can contain several options. A defining factor such as product color would contain several options, such as red, blue, and/or green. A defining factor such as size would contain several options, such as small, medium, large.
It would be useful at the point of sale or before to know and identify the date of manufacture, authenticity or season code of a given item. It also would be desirable to be able to account for the necessary identifying factors in a simplified, inexpensive manner to provide a record on the item as to its specification.
Another inconvenience the prior art labels having RFID devices is that the devices cannot be removed without destroying the label. RFID devices can be used to designate an individual's information, for example, in assigned uniforms. Thus, when a wearer returns his or her uniforms to an employer for cleaning, the RFID device can be used to identify the number of uniforms, etc., returned to an individual employee. The prior art RFID labels do not provide means to remove and reuse the RFID device.
Thus, there is a need to provide a comfortable label having a RFID device that can be removable and reused.
One aspect of the present invention is to provide steps for producing a ribbon of labels with removal RFID devices encapsulated therein, and dividing the ribbon into labels that are both soft to the touch, i.e., having edges that are generally scratchless to the apparel consumer, and capable of storing and transmitting identifying information and at the same time virtually free of defects.
Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a ribbon of labels woven with a plurality of cavities into which multiples RFID tags can be inserted prior to separating the individual labels.
Yet another aspect of the present invention is to provide a method and label that holds a RFID tag in place within a cavity thereof and allows for removal of the device without destroying the label.
Still another aspect of the present invention is to provide a method and label that allows for the recycling of RFID tags, whereby the RFID tag has a longer suitable life than the garment in which it is placed.
The present invention allows a formidable recycling method to be introduced wherein the protected RFID tag can be used many times for many garment life cycles. This feature is not only more environmentally friendly, it is also more cost effective allowing the cost of the RFID tags to be amortized over a longer period of time.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a RFID device that can be incorporated into labels whereby inventory control, pricing control and the tracking of the origin of the merchandise, for example, can be done via the RFID devices in the labels.
In accomplishing these and other aspects of the present invention there is provided an apparatus for inserting a radio frequency device into a label. The apparatus includes a ribbon of labels having a plurality of labels and a cavity formed in each of the labels, each of the cavities having an interference point located therein. A mechanism linearly advances the ribbon of labels. A device inserts at least one radio frequency device into the cavity of a respective label past the interference point to removably secure the device within the cavity.
In accomplishing these and other aspects of the present invention there is provided a method for forming a plurality of labels incorporating a radio frequency device comprising the steps of providing a ribbon of labels. The ribbon of labels includes a plurality of labels having a cavity disposed on both sides of a channel. An upper layer of the ribbon of labels is slit along the channel to form an opening along a top of each of the cavities and at least one radio frequency device is inserted within at least one of the plurality of cavities.
In accomplishing these and other aspects of the present invention there is provided a label for removably holding a radio frequency device, the label includes an upper and lower layer of material. A cavity is formed between the upper and lower layers. An area of interference is located at a top of the cavity for holding the radio frequency device within the cavity.
These and other objects, features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment relative to the accompanied drawings, in which:
Roll of labels 20 is guided by a roller 16 through a first slitting station 30. Slitting station 30 slits the upper layer 26 of the ribbon along center channel 24, as shown in
From slitting station 30 the roll of labels travels to a folding station 40. In folding station 40, the ribbon is folded into an upside down “U” shape with the slit in upper layer 26 facing upwards. In folding station 40 the ribbon 20 is folded or draped around a bar that acts as a support bar with the slit along channel 24 facing upwards. The cavities 22 of each ribbon length 20′ and 20″ are exposed allowing for two tags to be inserted into multiple cavities on either side of the support bar. This dual insertion allows for equal pressure to be applied to each cavity of the ribbons 20′ and 20″.
Moving forward from folding station 40, a photocell or eye 18 reads a registration mark located on the ribbon of labels 20 to activate a piston 52 to activate a pusher unit 54 of a tag aligning and insertion block unit 50, which will be described in further detail herein. To maintain the proper alignment for materials with logos and written instructions such as woven or printed labels, a fiber optic eye can be used, which reads color contrast as material advances past its read point. When a registration point passes under the eye or when the eye sees a color change an immediate interrupt signal is sent to the controller. Thus, the eye triggers the insertion advance of piston 52. A tension clutch 15 presents the ribbon for insertion by supplying force along the ribbon length to prevent collapse of the cavity and ribbon during insertion.
The present invention is particularly suited for insertion of devices such as security and inventory control devices, e.g., radio frequency inventory devices (RFID) tags, into labels. A RFID device 100 according to the present invention is shown in
Referring again to
According to the embodiment of RFID tag of
Different types of aligning and inserting blocks are contemplated by the present invention and depend on the shape of the RFID device to be inserted into the cavities. For example, as shown in
Referring once again to
After the ribbon is unfolded, it passes to a second slitting station 70. At slitting station 7, the lower layer 28 of the ribbon is slit as shown in
Thereafter, the two separate ribbons 20′ and 20″ can be rewound for handling or indexed and cut into individual labels as shown in
Area of interference 80 suitably holds the RFID coin in place in seat 83 of cavity 22. In other words, RFID device 100 is not permanently attached to the label, but only held under tension within cavity 22. If desired the RFID coin can be removed from the cavity by applying force against the area of interference. For example, pinching the two corners of the closed end of the label will push the coin past interference 80. Thus, the finished label of the present invention allows for the recycling of the RFID tags, whereby the RFID tags may have a longer sustainable life than the garment to which it is attached. After removal, the RFID tag can be placed into other products or garments or inserted into another woven printed label to be reattached to a garment.
As shown in
The area of interference 80 and retraction break 82 can be arrived at by way of several different weaving techniques and of multiple sizes and configurations. For example, area of interferences 80′ (
The open side of the resulting ribbon can be welded or glued shut after the insertion of the RFID tag should the product require such.
Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art. It is preferred therefore, that the present invention be limited not by the specific disclosure herein, but only by the appended claims.